BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: UK: Politics  
News Front Page
Middle East
South Asia
N Ireland
Talking Point
Country Profiles
In Depth
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
Wednesday, 10 July, 2002, 14:51 GMT 15:51 UK
Prime Minister's Questions
BBC News Online's Mark Davies gives his instant view on the winners and losers during Tony Blair's weekly grilling in the House of Commons.

Iain Duncan Smith said he knew "the pope was meant to be infallible but I didn't know the prime minister was," prompting laughter, and a little incredulity from MPs.

"Do you know that each one of us have all had attempts on our lives in the past by both bomb and bullet and....the authorities have refused, in some cases, to make any provisional security for those MPs and have lavishly given security provision to many members of paramilitary organisations" - Dr Ian Paisley

Anne McIntosh, the Conservative MP for Vale of York, asked a tricky question of the prime minister on the Eurotunnel.

She was about the only MP to give the prime minister a tough moment during his half hour in the spotlight.

Iain Duncan Smith went on the offensive over the new drug policy, focusing on the resignation of the drug czar Keith Hellawell.

He then made accusations against Blair over the restrictions on care homes.

An increase in applications made by Scottish students for university formed the basis of Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy's question.

Other issues raised by MPs included lack of affordable housing in London and the South East; the G8 Summit and the removal of weapons of mass destruction; homeless families; drug sniffer dogs.

Labour MP Irene Adams came up with a question-cum-advert inviting praise for Glasgow Airport, prompting Mr Blair to quip: "That's a tough one, but I am going to answer it."

Claire Curtis-Thomas also gets her name taken for asking about the Formby arts festival, an event about which the prime minister clearly knew, with some justification, absolutely nothing.

There was a sense of the end of term approaching in the Commons.

Sure, there is one big exam to go, with the comprehensive spending review to be unveiled on Monday.

But after that MPs know that the summer break beckons. And it was a low key, slightly drab, question time as a result.

It also had a distinctly Scottish feel with questions about Glasgow Airport, Scottish jobs, and Scottish students.

Not to mention the introduction of a drugs detector sniffer dog in the Shetlands.

Chuckling chancellor

But, of course, the Scot with the most important message, Gordon Brown, was sitting quietly next to Mr Blair.

If all eyes were on the prime minister, a few will also have strayed to the chancellor as they wonder how he will allocate cash to each government department next week.

Mr Brown was chuckling away as the session began. By the end he looked glum and began examining his fingernails. So, no change there then.

Significant points? Mr Blair laid the foundations for news of a big house building programme in the chancellor's statement next week.

Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith focused on drugs policy and the downgrading of cannabis.

The Conservatives see scope in the issue in terms of creating clear blue water between the two main parties on the issue.

Sidelined czar

But they also risk scuppering their own other moves towards the centre ground.

And Mr Duncan Smith failed to make things too uncomfortable for Mr Blair as he asked about the resignation of former drugs "czar" Keith Hellawell.

But nor was Mr Blair exactly convincing during his exchanges with the Tory leader.

The verdict? A one-all draw and not a very exciting one at that.

Other than that it was 30 minutes filled with MPs giving their constituencies a name check ahead of the summer break.

We had Blackpool, the Medway towns, Formby, Dundee, Stockton and numerous others, all in the guise of "questions".

Anyone watching would be justified in thinking that if they had a chance to question the prime minister they'd probably do rather better. It was not the Commons at its best.

Do you agree with Mark?

Send us your comments:

Your E-mail Address:



Disclaimer: The BBC will put up as many of your comments as possible but we cannot guarantee that all e-mails will be published. The BBC reserves the right to edit comments that are published.


E-mail this story to a friend

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |